C 2003/INF/11


Thirty-second session

Rome, 29 November – 10 December 2003


1. As agreed by the Council at its 116th session (June 1999), the Government of Canada hosted and organized, through its Ministry of Natural Resources, in collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Parks of Quebec, and co-sponsored by FAO, the XII World Forestry Congress in Quebec City from 21 to 28 September 2003. A total of 4,061 participants from more than 140 countries attended the Congress. This event, the largest global forestry meeting, attracted broad and active participation from all regions, from developing countries and from countries with economies in transition. The Minister for Natural Resources Canada, the Minister for Natural Resources, Wildlife and Parks of Quebec, and the Director-General of FAO were present and addressed the Congress during the opening ceremony.

2. The theme of the Congress was “Forests, source of life”, and the three programme areas were: Area A “Forests for People”; Area B “Forests for the Planet”; and Area C “People and Forests in Harmony”. A total of 1 050 voluntary papers were submitted to the Congress; they were peer-reviewed and ranked by FAO staff and Canadian counterparts. FAO staff submitted a number of voluntary papers, 22 of which were selected for oral presentation during the Congress. In addition, 33 position/invited papers were commissioned and peer-reviewed. The Congress included 38 thematic sessions, ten plenary sessions and, as an innovation, ten eco-regional round tables and six open discussions. Ten keynote speakers addressed the Congress.

3. In addition to the official events organized by the Congress, there were 110 side events. FAO was associated with 16. The side events provided opportunities for information, collaboration and dialogue. Furthermore, there were 325 poster presentations and a four-day exhibition with stands representing countries, forest industries and organizations, including FAO.

4. Three satellite events took place prior and during the Congress:

The conclusions and recommendations of these three events were presented to the Congress.

5. Twenty-five technical visits took place during the Congress to parks and forestry areas and to research and development centres and structures.

6. The outcome of the Congress is recorded in the Final Statement, in the general conclusions and recommendations for the three programme areas, in specific recommendations for the 38 topics and sub-topics of the Technical Programme and in the four volumes of the Proceedings, the first three of which were printed and made available at the Congress in three languages (English, French and Spanish), as well as in a CD-ROM edition. The Congress documentation was made available on the Internet several months in advance the FAO Web site.

7. The FAO Forestry Department provided advice and technical support in the selection of the theme, in the organization of the technical programme, in the identification and selection of invited authors, and in the review and categorization of the 1 038 papers submitted. FAO Technical Secretaries, together with the Canadian counterparts, served in the sessions of the Congress and contributed to the preparation of the draft report. Under a Canadian Trust Fund, FAO provided a team of two professionals, one consultant and two general service staff who assisted the Organizing Committee and the Canadian Secretariat by providing support to the preparations, particularly in the preparation and translation of the documentation, including the three information bulletins announcing the Congress. FAO is helping to complete the last volume of the Proceedings and will assist the Government of Canada in the wide dissemination of the outcome of the Congress.

8. According to the guidelines provided by the FAO Council, the Congress conclusions and recommendations are advisory to governments and international organizations; they are not binding. Participants expressed their views in a personal capacity. The following conclusions and recommendations of the Congress are brought to the attention of the Conference:

The more detailed recommendations related to the 38 thematic topics and sub-topics are available separately in the Proceedings, as well as through the Congress Web site.

9. FAO was requested to present to the XIII World Forestry Congress an assessment of progress on the strategies outlined in the Final Statement and, in the interim, promote the statement through other relevant fora.

10. The next Congress should be held in 2009 and it will be up to the FAO Council, on the basis of COFO recommendations, to select the host country. It is recommended that this decision be taken in 2005 in order to allow for four years of preparations.




XII World Forestry Congress


Forests, source of life


“The subject of forests is related to the entire range of environmental
and developmental issues and opportunities ...”

(United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, 1992)


Forests are a source of life: for the planet, and for its people.

Québec, Canada

September 28th, 2003


Forests, source of life

Forests are a source of life: for the planet, and for its people.

All societies are dependent on forests and trees, and have responsibilities for biodiversity, climate regulation, clean air, soil and water conservation, food security, wood and non wood products, energy services, medicines, cultural values.

The Congress is convinced that the needs of the planet and its people can be harmonized, and that forests have enormous potential to make a vital contribution to environmental security, poverty alleviation, social justice, enhancement of human well-being, equity for present and future generations.

The Congress is impressed by the notable progress towards this end by development of principles and practice, concepts and tools; within global and regional treaties and national programmes; through varied partnerships among governments, international organizations, corporations, and nongovernmental organizations; and in a variety of activities at the local level, notably those involving communities in ownership, decision-making and management, increasing the scope for enhancing their livelihoods.

At the same time, the Congress is deeply disturbed that permanent forest loss and degradation, largely due to activities outside the forest sector, continue at an alarming level. If current threats to forests continue, all human life will suffer. People in countries with low forest cover, indigenous peoples and local communities are particularly vulnerable. There is a need to address the widening gap between present trends and the potential of forests to contribute to the societal agenda, given increasing demand for forest products and services.

By harmonizing the needs of people and of the planet for forests, the world can progress along the path of sustainable development. But this harmonization cannot be achieved by the forest community alone. Bridges must be built with other sectors of society and a variety of actors.

The Congress calls on everyone for urgent and deep commitment to sustain this long-term process.

We envision a future with:

SOCIAL JUSTICE, where poverty is alleviated, livelihoods sustained, food and fuelwood secured, tenure rights and ownership recognized, and access to resources assured; where rights and benefits for forest workers are enhanced, gender equity is attained, inter-generational equity is pursued, and where access to education, training and health services is guaranteed, traditional knowledge is respected, and peace prevails.

ECONOMIC BENEFITS, where the full value of renewable and environmentally friendly forest products and services is recognized and leads to a flow of benefits, where sustainable forest management is profitable, where compensation mechanisms are established, and where the forest products industry operates competitively.

HEALTHY FORESTS which supply the full spectrum of products and services whilst conserving soils, maintaining biodiversity, regulating climate, sequestering carbon; where forest fragmentation is decreasing, deforestation is reduced, degradation is halted, and forest cover is increasing.

RESPONSIBLE USE, where forest resources are efficiently used and processed, and where consumption is sustainable.

And where:

GOVERNANCE is participatory, transparent and accountable; management and decision-making are decentralized, people are empowered, and partnerships flourish.

INTERGOVERNMENTAL DELIBERATIONS on forests have advanced to action.

RESEARCH, EDUCATION and CAPACITY BUILDING foster better understanding: of forest benefits and dynamics, of the complex relationship between ecosystems and human well-being, and of the impacts of human activities and management on forests.

Congress participants are determined to accelerate progress in closing the gap between the present situation and the long-term vision outlined above. This is in the collective interest of all. We recognize that forests exist within larger landscapes, are vitally connected to other sectors, and that they cannot be treated as enclaves in an interdependent biosphere.

To realize this vision, Congress participants highlight the following prerequisites:

Congress participants commit themselves, and urge the world community, to actively pursue the above prerequisites and to accelerate progress through promotion of the following strategies and actions:






Congress participants resolve to pursue the above vision and strategies with renewed vigour and commitment to ensure that forests make a strong contribution to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed targets.

The Congress invites all governments, related agencies, professional organizations, private companies and cooperatives, communities and individuals to urgently, and with full commitment, pursue the vision and strategies of this Statement. The Congress also requests that they promote these strategies with related professional communities and organizations in other sectors, in order to consolidate resources and efforts in realizing these goals.

The Congress requests FAO to present an assessment of progress on the strategies outlined in this Statement to the XIII World Forestry Congress and, in the interim, promote the statement through other relevant fora.

The Congress expresses its sincere appreciation and gratitude to Natural Resources Canada and to Ministère des Ressources naturelles, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec, who together have formed the Host Institution, as well as to FAO and all the people and organizations who have made this Congress possible.

The Congress invites Canada to promote this Statement to relevant bodies, in order to achieve the commitment required at all levels for pursuing this vision.

28 September 2003

The XII World Forestry Congress held from 21 to 28 September 2003 in Québec, Canada, attracted 4,061 participants from more than 140 countries. The participants, representing a cross-section of society concerned with forests, included individuals from rural communities, private forest owners, labour, indigenous peoples, youth, industry, environmental and other non-governmental organizations, scientific and academic community, various levels of government and international organizations. A wide spectrum of issues was considered in the context of the Congress theme, Forests, source of life, and under three Program Areas: Forests for People; Forests for the Planet; and People and Forests in Harmony. This final statement represents the views of the Congress, identifies areas of priority concern, and is intended to encourage decisions and action by those involved with various aspects of forests and forestry, and in other related sectors.